Due to widespread criticism linked to their anarchic deployment, their danger to traffic, and threat to pedestrians, the suppression of self-service electric scooters on the streets of Paris had been envisaged for several weeks. A ‘citizens’ vote’ was organised by the mayor in the capital on Sunday, April 2nd. The result was clear: almost 90% of Parisians voted in favour of ending the use of electric scooters.
The turnout for this first ‘citizen’ vote, which Mayor Anne Hidalgo wanted as a sign of the renewal of local democracy, was extremely low, to the point that the mayor’s office initially did not wish to publicise the participation rate. Only 7.46% of Parisians went to the few polling stations set up in the arrondissement town halls, i.e., about 103,000 voters. The results are however unanimous, regardless of the political colour of the arrondissement, Right or Left. In the centre—traditionally left-wing and favourable to the town hall’s ecological policies—the ban won with 86%. The record was reached in the 16th arrondissement, a right-wing bourgeois district, with almost 92% in favour of removing the scooters.
Despite the low turnout, Anne Hidalgo considers having passed the 100,000-voter mark a victory that gives legitimacy to the decision made at the ballot box. This will mean the end of the scooters—a decision that the mayor approves of, even though she was herself involved in their original installation in Paris. The ‘popular vote’ would only be there to sanction a decision already taken at the municipal level.
The self-service electric scooters first appeared on the streets of Paris in 2018. Three companies were awarded the market: Lime, Dott, and Tier. Motorised scooter locomotion, characterised by the city council as ‘soft mobility,’ did not receive unanimous approval in Paris, as in other French cities where it is used. Worse, its users were often singled out for their repeated failure to respect highway codes, endangering the safety of pedestrians, and in particular the most vulnerable people—the elderly and young children. It was common to see two people on a scooter, or a scooter speeding along the pavements, which is forbidden. The frequent use of scooters by minors also raised questions. Furthermore, the principle of ‘free-floating’—the free availability of scooters, with last-minute rental by QR code—was causing inconvenience to other users, with scooters being abandoned in the middle of the road or on the pavements. The regulatory proposals put forward by the operators were not considered convincing.
The main operator, Lime, regrets the city hall’s decision and the organisation of this vote, believing that Paris, until now a pioneer city in this field, is now an exception. However, electric scooters will not disappear from the Parisian landscape. Privately-owned scooters are not affected by the ban and will undoubtedly continue to plague Parisians.